My cousin Kristen and I are a decade apart. But as we grow older, we also grow closer.
Our mothers are sisters, and like Kristen and me there’s a large gap between them — 8 years. But as they aged, their bond has strengthened.
Kristen and I have much in common — our hair color, posture, body type and other family traits. Our love of Harry Potter, dark chocolate, hiking and good wine are also not to be forgotten.
But most importantly, we’re family. We share an unconditional love that sees one another through tears and laughter. I often describe Kristen and her brother Keith as my younger siblings rather than my lone first cousins.
We tease one another and confide in each other. We spar, we hug, we cook and eat (a lot) and we travel together. We share the good and bad, even when we feel alone.
After all, who else understands what it’s like to head to our grandparents’ house for Easter dinner where succotash and sliced ham are divvied with military-style precision? And who else comprehends a family throwdown mid-vacation that ends by baking bread then breaking bread?
And of course there’s the family tradition of stuffing the fridge to the gills, mainly with freshly-picked veggies from the garden.
Kristen was actually born while I celebrated my 11th birthday with friends at a roller rink. I was thrilled to share the day with her and even more excited to meet her several weeks later.
Last weekend, our family gathered in Bethlehem, PA to celebrate Kristen’s wedding. She married her best friend Erik and we welcomed him to our slice of insanity with open arms. Kristen was a stunning bride – confident, happy, gracious and glowing.
We don’t see each other as often as we’d like. But when we do gather, we have a great time.
I feel so blessed to have such incredible, strong and loving women in my family. Sure, we all trip and make mistakes, but we learn from those errors. We evolve, we grow, we become who we are today.
What’s the last family gathering you attended? Are you like me, with a close family that lives far away? How do you cope?